Phobias Essay, Research Paper
The book Phobias by Judy Monroe gives a very good definition of phobias, discussing every subject behind them, different types of phobias, and what is done to treat them. A phobia is an irrational, abnormal, or exaggerated fear. With phobias, the emotional and physical reactions are intensified. Phobics become abnormally terrified of threat of danger. Their bodies will react to fear in various ways such as sweating, shaking or trembling, or quick, shallow breathing. The National Institutes of Mental Health and the Anxiety Disorders Association of America found that up to 12% of Americans have phobias, and phobias strike more women than men.
There are three types of phobias: specific phobia, social phobia, and agoraphobia. Someone with specific phobia has an unreasonable, persistent fear of a specific object or situation, like closed spaces, heights, and animals for example. Someone with social phobia fear situations that involve people, like speaking in public or eating in a public restaurant. Someone with agoraphobia fear one of the following: being alone, leaving home, or being caught somewhere where leaving is almost impossible.
The word phobia is derived from the Greek word phobos which means fear, terror, panic, and flight. Phobias have been described throughout ancient and modern history, and people including Hippocrates, Robert Burton, John Bunyan, and Benjamin Rush all studied phobias and might have been phobics themselves. Although more than two hundred phobias have been named, researchers have found that about one hundred phobias account for most people s fears. A person s fears can range from their fear of being buried alive, taphophobia, to being afraid of nosebleeds, epistaxiophobia.
Nobody knows for sure what causes phobias, but scientists have come up with many theories. Some researchers say that phobias arise when people ignore unresolved problems and conflicts. Other researchers say that certain people develop phobias because of their body chemistry. Some researchers believe that people learn fear through direct experience. Another group of researchers point to culture as the cause of phobias. Researchers have performed numerous experiments to find the cause of phobias, not finding a single theory to be completely correct. Many researchers tend to think that simple phobias come from early experience and learning.
Only a mere 23% of people with phobias get help or treatment for their problems, and other than a therapist, there are a few ways some people use to help themselves in controlling their phobias. First, relaxation or meditation causes chemical changes in the brain that produce a feeling of peace and acceptance. Second, positive imagery is used to relax the person, warding off their phobic reactions. Third, physical exercise discharges nervous tension that builds up inside the phobic from their constant anxiety. Fourth and last, acceptance helps people gain control over their phobias. Therapy and medication are also used in the process to control the nerve-wrecking results of people s phobias.
Phobias have been dated to go back hundreds of years ago, yet scientists and researchers are still not completely sure of why people become phobics. There is a lot of help available today for people with phobias and most people can be successfully treated. Many organizations including the American Psychiatric Association, the Council on Anxiety Disorders, and the National Mental Health Association all participate in research studies on the hundreds of phobias that shatter some people s ability to live normal lives.